Cuban Poet Back On Her Feet After Suffering Cardiac Arrest 27 Times
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Lilliam Moro knows what it’s like to face death head-on – not once, but more than two dozen times.
Moro, 67, an accomplished poet from Cuba and a Little Havana resident, was a heavy smoker, diabetic, and suffered from high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.
In August of 2013, just 10 days after presenting her latest book Obra Poética Casi Completa or An Incomplete Book of Poetry, at a literary event, Moro suffered a massive heart attack.
“I had gone out that day, and I started feeling nauseous so I returned home,” she said. “I then started vomiting. I was also feeling weak and disoriented and decided to call 911.”
Paramedics rushed her to Jackson Memorial Hospital. After arriving at the emergency room, Moro went into cardiac arrest 27 times. She went on to spend a month in a coma.
“It’s a true miracle that she’s alive,” said Cesar Mendoza, M.D., a medical director of cardiology for Jackson Medical Group, who noted that he had never resuscitated a patient as many times as he did Moro throughout his cardiovascular career.
To treat Moro, Dr. Mendoza performed a minimally invasive procedure to implant a left ventricular assist device, or VAD, called Impella®.
The device is one of the world’s smallest mechanical cardiovascular support systems. It’s so small that it can be inserted into the patient’s heart through a small catheter. A tiny hole is made in the artery of the leg and the device is passed through until it reaches the heart.
“This device helps Lilliam’s heart pump oxygen-rich blood through her body,” Dr. Mendoza said.
Minority Women and Obstacles to Good Heart Health
Dr. Mendoza suggests women should educate themselves about heart disease, which can be deadly, particularly among Hispanics and African-Americans.
“Women in general should take heart disease very seriously and know the risk factors,” he said.
According to the American Heart Association, on average, Hispanic women are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics. And only 1 in 3 Hispanic women are aware that heart disease is their number-one cause of death. Overall, heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths among women, claiming more lives than any form of cancer.
More than 80 percent of African-American and 70 percent of Hispanic women are overweight or obese, compared to just 60 percent of white women, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. Another problem is that nearly 6 in 10 Hispanic women are not physically active, making them more susceptible to health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems and arthritis.
Also adding to the spread of heart disease among Hispanic and African-American women are cultural differences. These groups tend to take on the role of caregiver, catering to the needs of their families and loved ones before taking care of themselves. Staying away from fried foods that are high in cholesterol also poses a challenge, while language barriers create obstacles when it comes to understanding medical concepts and trusting medical systems.
It’s important for African-American and Hispanic women to pay as much attention to their health as they do their families. The key is regularly monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, while also taking the time to be active every day for at least 10 minutes at a time.
“There are a lot of lifestyle changes you can make to reduce risks, including exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking and eating a diet that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt,” Dr. Mendoza said.
Back on her Feet
Moro learned a hard lesson from her previously unhealthy lifestyle and is now following her doctor’s advice. Her health and quality of life improved dramatically after she quit smoking and started following a more balanced diet.
“I’m so grateful to be alive. There’s a reason I didn’t die,” said Moro, who is currently working on a memoir and a sequel to her latest book.
She said she is forever grateful to Dr. Mendoza for saving her life.
“I consider him and the rest of the cardiology staff at Jackson my angels.”
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a member of Jackson Medical Group’s cardiology team, call 305-585-4JMG or visit www.JacksonHealth.org.
For more of our Hearts of Jackson patient stories, click here.
To read more heart health articles during our Heart Month series, click here.
MIRACLES MADE DAILY
Here at Jackson Health System, Miracles are made Daily! We would like to share some of those stories through our Community Blog. We invite you to read, share and comment on our stories so we can build a healthy more well-informed community, together!
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